Three Tips to Help You Prepare to Fast

Saunders Schultz (American, 1927-2017) and William Conrad Severson (American, 1925-1999) Sculptors Yod Menorah, 1984

As we prepare for Yom Kippur, we consider and plan for many things: what time to leave for services (and to remember to bring our tickets!); if there are enough bagels for break-fast; how hungry, and thirsty, and yes, maybe even grumpy we will be. But how much thought do we put into preparing our bodies for the marathon that is “The Fast”?* Approaching your Yom Kippur fast with the same forethought as you put into planning the break-fast meal can help make the fast easier and keep your thoughts on the holiness of the day. 

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Starting a day or two before Yom Kippur, keep yourself especially well hydrated. Our bodies are made up of 60 percent water, and even mild dehydration can leave you feeling drained and fatigued (Mayo Clinic). The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has determined that, on average, men should drink three liters of fluid per day, and women, 2.2 liters. So, if you start your fast dehydrated, you will feel the consequences sooner.

Carbo Load

Taking a page from the marathon runner’s playbook, we know that meals rich in complex carbohydrates — such as whole grain bread, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables — help the body store energy and increase stamina. These fiber-rich foods also digest more slowly and can help you feel fuller longer. Balance the pre-fast meal with a small portion of lean protein, and you are fueled for success!

Kick the Caffeine

The Yom Kippur headache, the one that arrives mid-morning right between the eyes, is often due to the body crying out for caffeine it misses from the usual morning cup of tea or coffee. To lessen withdrawal symptoms, gradually cut back on caffeine about a week before Yom Kippur. The day before the fast, consume no caffeine at all.

*If you have a medical condition, please consult with your health care provider to determine if fasting is appropriate.